This is our family vacation. Minus One. It's always so weird to take this family vacation that we take every August without one member of our family present. If you'll notice, CB is missing.
CB is missing from a decent number of our photographs actually. Usually, we have pictures of the 3 younger girls together. Or, the girls with us. CB's presence in our photo albums is much like her presence in our real lives. Flitting on the corners. Hanging in the margins. Occupying a lot of time in some respects, but floating on the fringes in other respects. Because she is in summer school throughout July and into the first 2 weeks of August, we can not take our vacations then. After her school is done, she needs to spend time with her biological father in a different state as per joint custody order. The last 2 weeks of summer are the only time she can see him and the only time we can go away as a family. So, we go away without her. And, it allows us to have a lot more flexibility and relaxation and possibly even fun if I'm being completely honest. She is difficult to take to a lot of places and she takes 100% supervision by the water or in a public place. Plus, she gets all stressed out in novel situations. SHE doesn't have fun on vacation.
So, we leave her behind and I feel guilty. We leave her behind and I feel relief yet incomplete. We leave her behind and have a "normal" life for 2 weeks. But it's too normal. It's NOT our lives; it's too typical. It's nice, but it's not "us." It's too... boring. And though it's awesome and it's respite (for me) and it's relaxing and it's sane, it's also bittersweet. Because, like we do so often, we've left someone out. We've left someone behind. And with her absence, I feel the void a bit more than I normally do. With her left behind, so goes a piece of me.